New Hampshire’s image taken down some pegs in online survey

603 and Me poll garners some disheartening comments from residents and non-residents

“New Hampshire has low wages” and “you do see a poor class of folks.”

Ouch.

“The jobs are a problem, and so is our transportation system.”

Double ouch.

“Restaurants suck,” “no nightlife” and “generally a pretty boring place to live out your 20s and early 30s.”

Ouch, ouch, ouch!

These are some of the comments garnered in an unscientific survey commissioned by 603 and Me, an organization seeking to promote the state and carried out by students at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.

The results, not all of them unexpected, are somewhat disturbing, said Scott Baker, founder of 603 and Me, in an attempt to find out what those outside the state think of New Hampshire.

He said the expense to conduct a large-scale scientific survey was beyond what the organization could afford, so the students sent out the survey to contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook and email lists and received 523 responses. A good chunk – 158 – live in New Hampshire And those from out of state are overwhelmingly from Massachusetts (257), followed by New York (18.)

The bottom line of the survey, Baker told NH Business Review: “New Hampshire is a great place to visit, but its hard to find a way to make a living.”

The most popular descriptions of New Hampshire are “scenic” and “tax-free” and “family-friendly,” while the at the bottom are “young,” “energetic” and exciting.

To be sure, the state has gets strong marks for safety (85 percent), fun activities (81 percent) being a good place to raise kids (68 percent). But only 44 percent of respondents praised the state’s nightlife and only 41 percent thought it was a good environment for business.

Safety is the second most important factor for relocating to another state, the survey found. But job opportunity is the first and cost of living is third.

Those outside the state said they thought the state’s taxes were low, while those inside the state complained about them more, particularly property taxes.

“The property taxes eat people alive,” said one respondent. Most people outside the state were aware of the lack of an income tax, but few knew that the state didn’t have a capital gains tax.

In the comments section, many complained about what they saw as a lack of opportunity in the state.

“Grew up in NH, my whole life. I felt it was boring. From a career perspective I moved to Chicago as there were far more opportunities in my field. Feel like NH is not the best place to start off in your twenties,” said one respondent.

“For a working professional, you have to decide whether you want to work in NH and have a good commute and be able to spend time with your family or work in MA where you can make significantly more money at a more engaging job,” said another.

Baker said the general opinion of the state ran counter to some nationally rankings, which often list the state as the best place to live (CNBC), raise children (CNN), the safest (US News) and with the third-lowest unemployment rate. Such figures prompted Baker to tell the students to ask what people thought of the tagline, “New Hampshire: America’s Best-Kept Secret.”

The students prompted respondents to compare it with the state’s current motto, though Baker stressed to the NH Business Review that he wasn’t trying to replace “Live Free Or Die,” but to complement it with another.

It turns out that total respondents preferred “Live Free or Die (74.7%), but Granite State respondents were split: 52.6% in favor, 47.4% against. “Best-Kept Secret” had a less favorable response overall: 54.1 percent, but outside the state only 44 percent had a favorable view.

“Don’t even think about changing our state motto,” said one respondent. “We have the best and most stand out and impactful motto in country.

“Best Kept Secret,” said another. is a “bit simple and generic.”

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